Burnaby physician highlights racist comments to encourage soul-searching about meaning of being Canadian

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      It's happened on countless occasions: a member of a minority community ventures out to speak in the mainstream media, only to be vilified with racist remarks in a website comments section.

      But when Burnaby physician Dr. Birinder Narang was subjected to this abuse on YouTube after appearing on CBC, he turned it into a teachable moment.

      Dr. Narang, a leader in promoting COVID-19 health protocols who practises at the REACH Community Health Centre, retweeted some of the comments.

      This was intended to spur a discussion about what it means to be Canadian in 2021.

      "We have a long way to go," Dr. Narang stated. "And a shoutout to all the brown women who put themselves out there in the media. I imagine the levels of hate you receive can be exhausting!!"

      This morning, Narang talked to CBC Early Edition host Stephen Quinn about why he did this—and why he chose to delete the bigots' names. YouTube has hidden the comments on its site.

      Coincidentally, this week's cover story in the Georgia Straight focused on misogynistic hate, including racist online trolling, directed at B.C.'s female politicians.

      One of those interviewed, Green MP Elizabeth May, maintained that this abuse could largely be halted if social-media giants were deemed to be publishers under federal law.

      That's because this type of legislation would make companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter legally liable for content that appeared on their platforms in Canada.

      "I think they should be treated as publishers so people can sue them for libel and slander," May said. "I think they should be responsible for their content."

      Vancouver East NDP MP Jenny Kwan also said that social-media companies should be made responsible for content on their sites.

      At 5 a.m. on March 2—the same day that Narang tweeted about the racist comments—the Straight emailed the Ministry of Canadian Heritage seeking a response from the minister, Steven Guilbeault.

      Will Guilbeault introduce legislation this year describing social-media platforms as publishers?

      More than 48 hours later, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage has still not responded to the request.